Hands-On Preview: EA Sports UFC Demo

When THQ went under, I was hugely concerned that my beloved UFC franchise would be kicked to the curb and relegated to the bargain, but luckily a major player stepped up and acquired the franchise. Enter Dana White and EA, two parties that, at one time, were foes and are now holding hands to bring you the next installment of next generation cage fighting. So how do things fair so far judging by the demo? In one word, fantastic.

This is one of the best looking sports/fighting games made to date. EA Sports UFC uses the Ignite engine and really showcases what it is capable of. No two fights are ever the same and cuts, bleeding and bruising are all realistically developed during a fight. Fighters’ cuts will get worse as they take more damage and bruises will become more visible as the match goes on. I have been able to cause cuts over eyebrows, on cheeks, and bruise a fighter’s legs and abdomen.

EA Sports UFC - 02

The demo opens up with a quick tutorial that takes you through the basics of striking, modified striking, defending, takedowns, transitions and submissions. This is a lot to remember in a short time for a novice player. The good news is that if you had played previous versions of UFC Undisputed, the controls will feel familiar to you and you can get by pretty quickly. And if you played the previous EA Sports MMA title, you’ll be familiar with the stamina gauge and conserving energy to not get gassed. Where the demo really moved into uncharted area is with submissions (they compose of initiated, guarded and completed), which are totally different than any other title to date.

In the demo you can choose either reigning light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (19-1-0) or Alexander Gustafsson (16-2-0) and fight for three rounds. Jon Jones is an overall 97 while Gustafsson is an overall 94, although Jon Jones feels a bit more overpowering when being used. Once you choose a fighter then you can see the match settings (for the demo they are locked) which are: Difficulty, Match type, Round Length and Venue. Once you begin loading up the match you will get random game tips and fighter quotes to keep you busy before Bruce Buffer announces the two fighters.

EA Sports UFC took great care in making sure the feel of a real UFC fight was captured. Everything from the announcer Bruce Buffer (the official announcer of UFC), referee Yves Lavigne, the Octagon (complete with sponsors), fighter trainers, and even Octagon girls were meticulously scanned and given an authentic feel to the demo. Even the commentary puts you right into the fight with Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg calling the action and letting you know when a cut to a fighters cheek is getting worse or repeated leg kicks are damaging a fighter.


Once all the intros are done, you now are in for the real treat: fighting! Whichever fighter you choose, even on the locked in easy difficulty, be prepared to be challenged both standing and on the ground. I’ve played easily over a few dozen matches and each one has played out differently with me winning and losing in a variety of manners from TKO to KO to even Flash KO.

Striking in the game feels crisp and deep. You cannot just spam punches and kicks as you will deplete your stamina and make yourself susceptible to a takedown or a counter strike, which could lead to a KO. Takedowns can now be modified and you have the ability to shoot for a single or a double leg takedown now. Transitions and guard passes require you to know which direction you want to go to and what ultimate position you desire (i.e. the full mount, side control or taking someone’s back).

Ground and pound is brutal, and if you can capitalize on a position you can easily end fights with big punches from the top; but you are never defenseless in the game and can reverse, strike or go for submissions to get yourself out of bad situations. Striking was pretty simple to pick up and learn the different technical modifiers, while submissions continued to feel foreign. Beginning a submission and defending it seems simple but completing one is a whole different story. I cannot get a submission past the initial grapple, but I guess it will just take more practice.

Mind you this is only the demo and there is still a lot of the game that we can experience.

EA Sports UFC - Choking 1

In closing, the EA Sports UFC demo is an amazing way to show off the game and what it’s capable of. It’s also a good way for people to get a feel for the game and really decide if they want to take a leap into the franchise on next gen consoles. The learning curve on the demo alone is very steep, but once you begin to master the controls you begin to feel like a real MMA fighter. This is as real as it gets!

The demo was released on June 3rd for Xbox One and PS4. I played it on the PS4 for these impressions.

Join the Discussion

  • They Call Me Senpai

    Definitely plan to buy this, I’ll need a good fighting game to play while waiting for the next Tekken.

    • Al_Zamora

      I personally think it’s the best fighting game out there. There are so many moves and positions and ways to end matches. Very tactical and different.

      • They Call Me Senpai

        How many submissions are available for each character?

        • Al_Zamora

          Many. There is one for each position. I.e. Full guard, half guard, back, side control, up and down for each

      • Sea-HAWK fan

        def best fighting game since the days of good ol Sega and Snes..

    • Yeah waiting on a Tekken announcement for PS4!

  • ipot_04

    I can’t continously punch the guy when I’m on top just like with real UFC matches, there’s a delay before I can punch that guy again.
    I’m still in doubt of buying this.

    • Al_Zamora

      They don’t want you spamming punches, that’s why the stamina gauge is there like EA Sports MMA

      • ipot_04

        Well that’s less realism.
        The submission is kinda hard to pull though I managed to get to the 3rd lock though the opponent didn’t tapped.
        It is kinda difficult and somehow unpredictable even if it’s in Easy mode.

        • Al_Zamora

          I was surprised that it was so tough even on Easy. Unless that is just a place holder since the options are locked.

          • Sea-HAWK fan

            Could be because Jones and Gus have really great sub defense? I mean jones has never lost (technically) , not to sure about gus but I am guessing hes pretty darn good as well

  • Craig Sloan

    I wasn’t impressed with the demo. I really didn’t like the grapple and submission system. Also in my second fight I one punch KO’d the other guy when he got up off the mat from behind but I barley glanced him. In my first fight I got KO’d with two forearm shots when i was pinned down on the mat because blocking and timing was not easy to master.

    Only had a handful of fights myself and I wasn’t really impressed. You can pretty much spam superman punch for success.

    • Al_Zamora

      Jon Jones is OP. His super man punch has a ton of distance and can be done off the cage but there are ways to counter it. The grapple system follows UFC Undisputed but the submission system is completely new, it takes getting used to. Blocking is all about timing and you can’t just hold the block down and absurd damage while turtling,

      • Sea-HAWK fan

        I liked in the last THQ that blocking, reverses takedowns/clinches, and also advancing was a simple flick of the joy stick either way.. Adding that you need to hold r2, l2, etc makes it seem a little frusterating.. I am sure I will get used to it but I dont understand really.. If its not broke dont fix it.. I will be getting this game .

  • Vious

    I just downloaded this demo. still playing Max right now, but will fire it up in a few. thanks for the review.

    • Al_Zamora

      Let me know what you think of it?

  • Duke

    I enjoyed the Demo. Personally, I found fights to be much much easier playing as Gustafsson, I’ve used his roundhouse kick a couple of times and have flash KO’d Jones. First time I did it, I kind of flipped out because of the awesomeness. I haven’t played any of the UFC games in a while, I did get EA’s MMA game but that seemed lacking. This game does a lot to surprise you, even in this short demo. Didn’t realise it was on easy either, because I have found it tough at times. I really do hope that they bring out another Fight Night though, Champion was really good and I hope they continue on with it.

    • Al_Zamora

      I was surprised they brought back flash KOs. I thought Gustafsson matched up well but Jones was definitely stronger in striking. That’s the thing this is just the demo so I am expecting a lot from the full title.

      • Duke

        The flash KOs are nice. But I felt that they come around all too often. The game will take some getting used to. The scary thing is that this is the easy difficulty and it feels hard.

        I really struggle with the submission system, it just feels way to complex. I get that they wanted it to feel difficult because that’s what it really is like but it just feels unconventional in its approach. I am sure if I get learn it more, I won’t have such a big issue with it but at this stage, I just don’t like it.

        The worst thing about this demo is that the user manual cannot be opened for help and tells us to go to a webpage, very stupid and unhelpful move by EA.

  • Mikail

    I like UFC games since Dreamcast Era, with this games coming to ps4, i am very exited.

    • Al_Zamora

      This is a vast improvement over the Dreamcast versions. I played those as well.

  • Nihelus Aurenis

    It’s interesting to read a positive article on the demo. I read three last night and they all hated it. They all basically said the majority of matches were won by spamming punches in under 30 seconds, which is especially stupid considering the fighters they chose for the demo. Those fighters are extremely unlikely to get knocked out at all, much less in 30 seconds. I certainly hope the game is more like this article says and less like the others. I’ll have to download the demo tonight.

    Btw, Mr. Zamora, does Dualshockers have any way to ask Sony a question about the PSN pre-order? Many of us are wondering if we will unlock Bruce Lee if we pre-order on the PSN. Personally I don’t like buying physical goods if I don’t have to, but I’d hate to miss out on that offer. The European PSN states that pre-orders will unlock Bruce Lee and Royce Gracie but there is no mention whatsoever of a pre-order bonus on the PSN.

    • Al_Zamora

      I will try to look into it for you

      • Nihelus Aurenis

        Thank you, appreciate it.

  • 2econd gpu unlocking

    900p on the supposed 50% more on specs PS4?

    • JustGaming

      Microsoft’s pissy parity clauses on XBox being observed by EA? Lololololololol.

      Am I doing it right?

  • Angry Tree Man

    I didn’t like the controls when on the ground, and after attempting a submission multiple times I still have no idea how the mechanic works. I played the game for about a half hour then deleted it in frustration. I was really excited about this one. I really enjoyed the THQ version, wish they would have just copied that one.